The faith of a geochemist
Associate Professor David Cohen of the University of New South Wales, Australia, says:
For geologists and geochemists like myself, the planet is a vast laboratory. Our task is to make sense of the physical and biological evidence for the processes that have shaped our planet. We begin by observing and measuring and then we propose models to explain those observations. Our goal is to provide a scientific narrative – a sort of geological book of Genesis – that explains how the world came to be like it is.
Much of the planet’s history can be linked to ‘plate tectonics’. It’s now the commonly accepted view that the world has seven large plates on its surface that move. This model explains such diverse evidence as continental drift and the distribution of earthquakes. While the plate tectonics model seems so elegant, effective and obvious to today’s generation of geologists, there was significant opposition by some leading geologists when it was first proposed. Yet, the evidence for the model is overwhelming, and underpins much of our geological thinking today.
In the same way that I have faith in the evidence for plate tectonics I also have faith that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, has made it possible for me to be friends with God forever. But what does the biblical evidence about Jesus demand in terms of a model? And what and why do I believe?
At the end of the famous Sermon on the Mount, Matthew records the response of those who were listening to Jesus:
“When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at His teaching, for He taught with real authority—quite unlike their teachers of religious law.” (Mt. 28-29).
I can relate to that crowd. It’s not just the teaching of Jesus that appeals to me, but also extraordinary events and miracles that reveal His nature and support His claims to be the Messiah promised by the prophets of the Old Testament. Throughout the Old Testament, prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Daniel, the writers of the Psalms and many others predicted that one day God would send a Messiah, or anointed King who would save people from their sin. Jesus fulfils these promises in convincing ways, which are extraordinary and specific. For example, Isaiah 53 paints a very detailed picture of the sufferings Jesus endured on the cross. Jesus understood that He was fulfilling these promises. He said to His disciples:
“The Father gave me these works to accomplish, and they prove that He sent me” (Jn. 5:36 – see also Lk. 24:26).
And Jesus knew that the prophets predicted a terrible execution for the Messiah. But He also knew that afterwards He would rise from the dead. Speaking to His disciples He said:
“We’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man (Jesus) wlll be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die and hand Him over to the Romans. They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again” (Mk. 10:33-34).
The reason Jesus gives for His death is that it is a ‘ransom’ or payment for sin (see Mk. 10:45). But Jesus explains that it is essential to trust in Him for forgiveness. He says that He is ‘the way, the truth and the life’ and that we must trust in Him for forgiveness.
Nothing in science beats a predictive model that’s subsequently confirmed by new evidence. My decision to follow Christ was gradual, not revolutionary. It was the result of considering the events and ideas presented in the Bible and observing the faith and actions of other followers of Jesus over some years. I found the evidence in the Bible about Jesus to be compelling proof of His nature as God. This includes His words, His actions, His resurrection from the dead and His appearing before many witnesses.
If the Biblical evidence points to Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, what is the implication for our future? Jesus says this:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying” (John 11:25)
This is the core of Christianity. Not church traditions but a simple set of propositions in the Bible. It’s why I believe.
Bible Verse: John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying”.
Prayer: Dear God, thank you for all the evidence about Jesus in the Bible. Help us to always put our trust in Jesus.
Acknowledgement: This blogpost was sourced from Outreach Media, Sydney, Australia.
Images and text © Outreach Media 2017